Warhammer Online Will Likely go Free to Play

Unlike the rumor posted last year on MMOHuts about The Lord of the Rings Online going free to play here, this isn’t a rumor. It’s just an opinion piece. I feel that Electronic Arts will make Warhammer Online completely free to play, supported by micro-transactions, within one year. Why? Well. Many reasons. I’ll list them.

5 Reasons Warhammer Online Will go Free to Play

1. Electronic Arts has already begun embracing Free to Play.

Electronic Arts first dipped its toes into the free to play model back in mid 2009 with the release of Battlefield Heroes. Since then, they’ve released numerous free to play MMOs such as Battleforge, Lord of Ultima and FIFA Online. They’re also working on releasing numerous other a free to play games including Need For Speed World Online and Tigers Woods PGA Tour Online. EA is clearly serious about free to play, as they’ve launched free to play MMOs for many of their major franchises. Based on the direction EA has been going with their online games, it wouldn’t be too surprising for Warhammer Online to go free to play.

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Battlefield Heroes Gameplay Screenshot

2. Warhammer Online Subscriptions are in decline.

Warhammer Online originally launched back in September, 2008 and was widely regarded as a potential “WoW” killer. The game launched with an impressive 750,000+ subscribers worldwide, but the playerbase has died down significantly since release. The latest “official” announcement pegged the game’s subscription numbers at 300,000, but the actual numbers today are probably closer to 200,000 than 300,000. To better illustrate the game’s rapid decline, just look at the game’s total servers. The game launched with 60+ servers worldwide but has a measly 4 today. It’s very difficult for the folks over at EA to “turn things around” without doing something drastic, as the game’s development team is probably super frustrated and demoralized. Making Warhammer Online free to play could bring more players into the game and breath life back into the title.

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Warhammer Online Screenshot

3. Warhammer Online cannot compete with World of Warcraft.

This one may bit a bit controversial, but I feel the subscription numbers speak for themselves. Very few people want to pay $14.99 to play Warhammer Online when they could be playing World of Warcraft instead. I’m not saying Warhammer Online is a bad game, because it’s not. The problem is World of Warcraft offers more value in terms of content and features than Warhammer Online (More instances, larger game world, more players, more items, etc.)

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World of Warcraft Stormwind Screenshot

4. Pay to Play Going Free to Play Works.

If Warhammer Online went free to play, it wouldn’t be the first pay to play game to do so. Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) from Turbine proved that pay to play going free to play works. Dungeons and Dragons Online was on the brink of failure when Turbine relaunched it as a free to play title. Since then, the game has enjoyed enormous success. In fact, Turbine’s CEO, Jim Crowley, stated back in February 2010, “The response from players to DDO Unlimited has been nothing short of phenomenal”. Turbine’s revenues from DDO increased over 500% since going free to play and even its subscription revenues have more than doubled. That’s right, 2x as many people today are subscribing to DDO voluntarily for added benefits than the total subscribers the game had back when users were required to subscribe to access the game. Turbine is even relaunching their flagship MMORPG Lord of the Rings Online as a free to play game later this year (Fall, 2010).

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Dungeons and Dragons Online Was P2P went F2P.

5. Warhammer Online already has an unlimited free trial.

Warhammer Online today already has an unlimited free trial. Sure, the trial has a level cap of 10 and several other major restrictions, but it’s a step towards going free to play, even if its just a baby step.
I don’t think EA/Bioware’s newest MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic will be free to play, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Warhammer Online did go free to play.

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More Warhammer Online Gameplay

What do you think guys? Would you consider playing Warhammer Online if it went free to play? I know I’d give it a chance. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

By, Omer Altay

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